View of Little Traverse Bay from Bayfront Park
Since I was on family campout for a couple of days at Petoskey State Park in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan, I decided to get in some North Country Trail (NCT) hiking. It had just rained the night before, but the day looked promising. Also, it was still overcast, so that meant the sun would not be beating down on me. (Though, it cleared up and got hotter during the afternoon.)
For this hike, I walked from the park to where the NCT crosses M-119. Starting there, I walked the portion that runs concurrently with the Little Traverse Wheelway (LTW) to Petoskey.
Little Traverse Wheelway archway sign Plaque on LTW sign
In Petoskey, the NCT leaves the LTW and continues up the west bank of the Bear River. I had intended to continue that way, but there was active trail construction going on and the trail was closed, so I turned back at that point.
Rejoining the LTW, I walked back to M-119 and crossed it. At this point the NCT is no longer on pavement but is an actual trail. The NCT proceeds in almost a straight line to a road connector portion near and in the town of Conway. There is also another short trail portion which ends at N Conway Road.
At that point, I was fortunately close to a nice cafe where I had lunch. Then, I returned by the same route to M-119.
The trail descriptions are made in the NY-to-ND direction.
Petoskey: Bear River at US-31 to M-119 South of Petoskey State Park
Looking up the Bear River in Petoskey
This sub-section of the NCT generally hugs the shoreline of Little Traverse Bay (of Lake Michigan). Starting from the US-31 (E Mitchell Street) overpass over the Bear River in Petoskey, the NCT proceeds on paved park paths by Mineral Well Park and into Bayfront Park. At a footbridge, the NCT joins the (paved) LTW and heads generally northeast in the park. The NCT/LTW also passes Sunset Park (essentially part of Bayfront Park). There is plenty of parking for cars at Bayfront Park.
Waterfall and flower garden in Sunset Park
View past the museum Museum sign
Also, the Little Traverse Historical Society History Museum is located near the entrance to Bayfront Park, though please note that they charge admission.
Eventually, the NCT/LTW leaves the park, but is it's own path until it arrives at US-31 (now Bay View Road), where it runs alongside as a sidewalk. The NCT/LTW leaves Petoskey and enters Bay View (an unincorporated community originally founded by a group of Methodists as a retreat). Many of the houses are named.
Flowers at the Gingerbread House B&B
The NCT/LTW leaves US-31, turning left onto Division Road. The trails remain as a sidewalk until after a couple of cross-streets they become their own path again. The NCT/LTW are somewhat secluded from the surrounding neighborhood by the trees lining the route, until the houses end a short way further on. There is also good parking on the northeast side of this neighborhood, as there is a parking area for the LTW (with a shelter) accessible from Rice Street (off M-119/US-31) behind a shopping plaza.
Little Traverse Wheelway shelter
Eventually, the NCT/LTW approaches M-119, where the trails diverge from each other. The NCT proceeds northeast across M-119 while the LTW continues north toward Petoskey State Park and further around Little Traverse Bay.
M-119 South of Petoskey State Park to Conway
After crossing M-119, the NCT continues northeast through Conway. (Conway is an unincorporated community in Little Traverse Township.) The trail is very direct, almost a straight line until it arrives at Powell Road (southwest of Conway), where a road connector starts and continues through Conway. The road connector proceeds on Hiawatha Trail, enters Conway on Rosada Street, turns onto Heydey Street, and then crosses W Conway Road to return to trail. This next trail section is short, and ends at N Conway Road. At this point, there is a 1.9 mile road connector to the Mackinaw State Forest.
Parks Place Cafe in Conway
Please note that the road connector at Conway is a deviation from map MI-07, which shows trail. The trail exists but the NCT is blazed away from it, so I assume that there is a good reason for it (such as, permission has not been given to cross, for example).
In this section, the NCT passes by Round Lake and Mud Lake. Round Lake actually drains east into Lake Huron, despite being at most a mile from Lake Michigan! (Mud Lake is even closer to Lake Michigan and that drains into Round Lake. Essentially, the Lake Michigan dunes are the "continental divide" for this part of the lower peninsula of Michigan.
There are no listed parking areas, but I'm sure you could park along a street in Conway without any trouble.
See the attached album. The picture order and time/travel order are not the same:
ND direction: 20100809 1110a, 1111, 1112, 1114 museum, 1128, 1130, 1149, 1152a, 1205, 1206, 1209, 1235, 1239, 1240, 1242, 1245, 1252, 1302, 1320, 1327, 1332, 1336, 1338, 1339, 1340, 1346
NY direction: 20100809 1347, 1421, 1422a, 1424, 1426, 1429, 1430, 1435, 1447, 1501, 1506, 1509, 1510, 1511, 1004, 1007a, 1012, 1015, 1022, 1027, 1029, 1039, 1044 sign, 1047, 1052 LTW, 1056, 1107 river, 1108 sign, 1110 construction
Scenery pictures are as follows (all 20100809):
- 1013 LTB: Little Traverse Bay
- 1016 shelter: This is a nice shelter with a map of the Little Traverse Wheelway trail system.
- 1043 LTB: Little Traverse Bay
- 1052 LTW: This is a sign for the Little Traverse Wheelway
- 1058 flowers: I think this is actually at Sunset Park (within Bayfront Park).
- 1104 museum: This is the sign on the Little Traverse Historical Society History Museum.
- 1107 river: This is the view looking up the Bear River from the footbridge in Bayfront Park.
- 1114 museum: Here is a view past the Little Traverse Historical Society History Museum.
- 1123 LTB: Little Traverse Bay
- 1131 LTW sign: There is a plaque attached to the Little Traverse Wheelway archway sign, describing its significance.
- 1159 B&B: This is the Gingerbread House bed & breakfast in Bay View - nice flowers!
- 1238 bench: Nice people on M-119 put in a bench and water fountain for weary hikers and bikers.
- 1247 sign: South Round Lake Nature Preserve sign
- 1415 cafe: Parks Place Cafe is a good place to eat in Conway, but it's only open for breakfast and lunch (until 2 pm).
- 1442 lake: Round Lake
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